I learned this when my mother made her first trip to Starbucks, and, being put off by the "Tall", "Grande", "Venti" measurement system, asked a Barista if she could simply have a "Small".
When she said that, my sister and I rolled our eyes, and I'm sure we were both about to whisper, "Mom, that's not how they do it here. "Tall" is the smallest one they have."
But much to our suprise, the Barista whispered, "Yes, you can order a small."
I was shocked. The Barista pulled out a cup size that I've never seen before and charged my mom a lower price than anything listed on their menu board.
I was wondering, if this is an option, then why isn't it on the board?
Then I see Seth Godin writing about yet another menu item that Starbucks has been hiding from us, the "short" cappuccino, which is actually a better, stronger cappuccino that costs less than the other cappuccino options on their menu board.
He sites a great article on Slate-- Starbucks Economics: Solving the mystery of the elusive "short" cappuccino that talks about why Starbucks might be marketing it's products to price-blind coffee gourmands, but then secretly also catering to more frugal folks. Slate says:
"It's not hard to identify the price-blind customers in Starbucks. They're the ones buying enough latte to bathe Cleopatra. The major costs of staff time, space in the queue, and packaging are similar for any size of drink. So, larger drinks carry a substantially higher markup...The difficulty is that if some of your products are cheap, you may lose money from customers who would willingly have paid more. So, businesses try to discourage their more lavish customers from trading down by making their cheap products look or sound unattractive, or, in the case of Starbucks, making the cheap product invisible."
As a biz owner and a coffee consumer, this is very educational.
It doesn't bother me that they do this. It's just astounding how multi-faceted marketing can be and how clever Starbucks (and any biz that's a marketing powerhouse) is about understanding how our minds work.